Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti

Free Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti by Ted Oswald

Book: Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti by Ted Oswald Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ted Oswald
Tags: FIC019000, FIC022080
ten years old! I have no money. I am chained to an Aunt who works me to death.
    Libète stood and stepped toward San Figi.
    — You’re asking too much of me—too much of a little girl! Claire and Gaspar are dead, and there is nothing,
nothing
, that I can do about it.
    San Figi rushed at Libète, producing a powerful gale of cold that crashed into her and knocked her back into the reeds.
I’ve wronged her
.
    San Figi knelt down next to the girl, causing her to convulse in shivers as she struggled to pull away.
She’s never come this close before
, Libète realized. She thought that San Figi was about to touch her, and she cringed, not knowing what dark thing that touch might accomplish. Instead, San Figi pointed to the swirling darkness of her face. Libète reluctantly gazed into it, awed at what she saw.
    Libète awoke on her mat and shot upright. She rubbed her eyes. Horizontal shafts of light shone through bullet holes in the wall left by errant machine gun fire some years ago.
    She remained on her mat for a few minutes, collecting her thoughts and registering the sights and smells around her. She blocked the din coming from outside the home, making out the low and angry voices of her Aunt and cousin. She smelled charcoal, and something else, something unusual. She gave a yawn, surprised that her Aunt had prepared food without forcing her to get up and help.
    Then, like fog parting, she remembered.
    It had been a long night spent at church, praying and celebrating the arrival of New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and most important of all, Libète’s eleventh birthday. She smiled to herself, her encounter with San Figi passing into the recesses of her mind.
    She stood and gave a grand stretch, taking another deep yawn before listening again to make out her family’s indistinguishable words. She moved close to the dividing curtain to eavesdrop.
    —…you can’t tell me where to go and what to do any longer—you hear me? I’m my own man and you’re too blind to see it!
    — OOooohhh, you are ailing your mother. You know that? Are you trying to strike me down, right here, right now? My heart, my heart—it’s stopping! Thanks to you! I give you life and you’re going to take mine, piling suffering upon suffering on me, woe upon woe!
    Davidson let out an exasperated moan.
    — You’re so—so—blind! Deaf! Things have changed here and I’m not your mule of a son, willing to accept the shit you heap on me and everyone else. I’m out of here! Tell Libète I came to see her.
    — Get out. Get out you ungrateful monster. Out!
    He was already gone. Libète thought it best not to step out until her Aunt’s boiling temper reduced to a simmer.
    Her sleeping room was cramped as she had grown in the last three years but had opened up of late when her older cousin moved his things and himself to a home rented by friends. She puttered about and changed her clothes.
    Meeting with Dimanche left her subdued, and for the next four days she and Jak were forced to resume their normal lives though it was impossible to escape the gossiping surrounding the murders. Wild theories seemed to crop up in every corner and byway of Bwa Nèf. Others had since made Jak’s connection to Ezili Dantò, but spun it off into fantastical territory. The wildest thought was that Ezili Freda Dahomey was the culprit. Dahomey was another lwa known for vanity and jealousy, the idea being that Dahomey had possessed someone and the ridden person had spotted the mother and child, mistaking them for Ezili and her baby. In a fit, Dahomey swept in and killed the mother and child. The most superstitious mothers entrusted their children to men or older siblings so that Dahomey would not mistakenly strike them down, too.
    — Libète? Her Aunt’s voice called from the other room. Are you awake?
    — Wi! she said, manufacturing a yawn to pretend she had heard nothing. I’m coming!
    — Good! I have something you’ll be happy about. Her usual irritability

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